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What to Do When Your Feline Friend Won't Drink Water

Proper hydration is vital for your cat's well-being, and any deviations from their usual drinking habits warrant attention. Here, our Morton vets discuss how much water cats should drink, what to do if your cat won't drink water, and when to seek veterinary care.

How much water should a cat drink?

Staying properly hydrated is essential when it comes to maintaining good health. That is as true for our furry friends as it is for us. Thankfully, most animals instinctively drink water whenever they are thirsty. But if your cat won't drink water you are bound to be concerned.

An important thing to keep in mind is that different animals require different amounts of water. So, even if you think that your cat isn't drinking enough, it's possible that your feline friend is getting adequate hydration to stay healthy.

Dogs, for example, often drink huge quantities of water all at once. But cats are much more likely to drink very small amounts at one time.

Our canine companions also require much more water per kilogram of weight than cats - meaning that your feline family member may not need to drink as much water as you might think.

Cats who eat a diet of dry food need to drink more water than those who eat canned or fresh foods. For every ounce of dry food, cats typically drink about 1 ounce of water, whereas cats eating wet foods will drink considerably less because much of their hydration comes from their food.

That said, you may be right, perhaps your cat isn't drinking enough water. If your cat won't drink water an underlying health condition, the cleanliness of the water, or the location of the bowl could all be potential reasons why your cat isn't drinking enough.

How can I tell if my cat is dehydrated?

Dehydration poses a serious threat to your cat's overall health and well-being. If your kitty refuses to drink enough water they can quickly become dehydrated. Below are a few ways to check whether your cat may be dehydrated.

  • Skin Elasticity - Check your cat's skin by gently pinching the extra skin between their shoulder blades to form a tent-like shape. Once you let go your kitty's skin should snap right back to normal in less than a second. If your cat's skin doesn't snap right back, your feline friend could be dehydrated.
  • Sunken Eyes - Take a good look at your cat's eyes. If your kitty's eyes seem to lack focus or appear sunken or dull, dehydration may be the cause.
  • Dry Mouth - Examine your kitty's gums. Your cat's gums should always be pink and moist. Pressing your finger against your cat's gums will make the spot you are pressing turn white, but if they don't return to a healthy pink color within a second or two of removing your finger your kitty may be dehydrated.
  • Constipation - Do a little box check. When cats are dehydrated they often become constipated. If your cat hasn't been passing as much stool as usual, dehydration may be to blame.
  • Panting - Unlike dogs, cats don't often pant. If your feline friend is panting they may be dehydrated.

If your cat is showing signs of dehydration contact your vet right away. Dehydration in cats can be fatal, and once the symptoms above become evident your cat is likely to be severely dehydrated and in need of veterinary care.

How do I hydrate a cat that won't drink water?

Knowing how to hydrate a cat that won't drink water can be a problem. If you are concerned that your cat isn't drinking enough water, but they are not showing any of the symptoms above there are a few things you can try to increase your cat's water consumption.

  • Ensure that your cat's water bowl is not near their litter box. If it is, move it to a better spot in the room or a different room altogether.
  • Provide fresh water daily. Many cats will not drink water that has been sitting for an extended period of time.
  • Try moving the bowl to a different location (even if it's not near the litter box).
  • Try a different bowl or a bowl that provides running water for cats to enjoy.
  • If your cat eats dry food switch to canned.

How does dehydration affect my kitty's health?

Contact your vet right away if you believe that your cat isn't drinking enough water. Dehydration can be an indication of a serious underlying condition such as kidney disease, heatstroke, or diabetes. When it comes to your cat's health it is always best to err on the side of caution.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat shows any concerning symptoms or behaviors our Morton veterinarians are here to help? Contact Stoney Creek Veterinary Hospital right away to book an examination for your feline family member.

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